Tags: Barrow Street, Capital Grille, East 42nd Street, Fiorello LaGuardia, Jefferson Market library, Lexington Avenue, New York Public Library, Patience and Fortitude, photos of snow in New York City, Seventh Avenue South, Sheridan Square, slush in New York, snow covered steps, snow drifts in New York City, Snow in New York during the winter of 2017, Walk Sign in the snow
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After last year's extraordinarily mild December, the warmest on record by a wide margin (13.3 degrees above average), December 2016 fell back to earth, 0.8 degrees above average. Through 12/21 the month was two degrees colder than average, but then the jet stream reversed itself and temperatures were seven degrees above average during the last ten days of the month, pushing the month into the above-average column - the eighteenth month in a row with above average temperatures. With every month of 2016 experiencing above average temperatures, it was no surprise that the year was one of the mildest on record, ranking fourth (joining 2015, 2012 and 2010 in the top 10). Here are a few other observations:
To sum up December's weather in one word - "WOW"!
As you may recall, November 2015 was New York's mildest on record, edging out November 2001 by 0.1 degree. In December, 2015 once again beat out 2001 as mildest ever, but this time it was by a wide margin - 6.7 degrees. Never before has a warmest/coldest month been that far ahead of the second warmest month. (The previous greatest margin between the top two was 2.8 degrees, February 1934 vs. 1899.) December 2015 was consistently mild throughout the month and was 13.3 degrees above average - the most above average of any month on record. In fact, it wasn't much cooler than the record-mild November and was 3.1 degrees milder than a typical November. Every day of the month had an above average mean daily temperature - the only month in which this has ever occurred. The chilliest day was 12/19 when the mean temperature was two degrees above average (high/low of 40/35).
No day in December had a temperature of 32° or colder - a first for December (the coldest reading was 34°). Previously, the mildest daily minimum temperature in December was 28°. 18 days had mean temperatures that were 10+ degrees above average; 13 were 15+ degrees above average; and seven were 20+ degrees above average. There was one streak of nine days with mean temperatures that were 10+ degrees above average - only a 10-day streak in December 1998 was longer. 11 days had highs of 60° or warmer, another December record. The high of 72° on 12/24 was the tenth time NYC had a high in the 70s in December. And the low that day was the mildest ever reported in December, 63° (13 degrees above that day's previous record). Christmas Eve's mean temperature was 33 degrees above average - the most above average day on record. All told, the month saw four new record highs (and one tied a record) and five record-high minimums (and two tied).
December was the third month in 2015 that was warmest ever. Additionally, May and August were second and third warmest, respectively. These warm months almost completely overshadowed February, which was the second coldest since 1900. (Remember the frozen fountain in Bryant Park, or that the Hudson River was ice-clogged at the end of the month?)
Typically the month of December is five degrees colder than March, but about every five years (based on records since 1960) March is colder. 2014 was one of these years as March, the coldest in 30 years, was three degrees colder than December. Of the 34 years (since 1869) in which March was colder than December, the most extreme was in 2015 when it was 12.7 degrees colder (that December was the mildest on record). Here are some other tidbits ...
|LAST 10 YEARS WHEN MARCH|
|WAS COLDER THAN DECEMBER|
|March||Dec.||March v Dec.|
|GREATEST TEMP DIFFERENCE|
|(MARCH V DECEMBER)|
|March||Dec.||March v Dec.|
Before it turns to slush, new-fallen snow in New York brings a blanket of serenity even to the great metropolis. And wintertime covers of The New Yorker perfectly capture the ineffable beauty of the season. Here are my favorites (captions are mine) ...
I've written a similar post about my favorite summertime covers. Large reproductions of these covers, as well as every New Yorker cover (nearly 5,000), are available for purchase on Conde Nast's website. (And small versions are sold by street vendors throughout midtown Manhattan.)
The snow that piled up in New York during the winter of 2014 made it one of the ten snowiest on record (going back to 1869). The bulk of the 57 inches fell in January (19.7") and February (28.8"). Their combined total of 48.5" is the second greatest amount of snow to fall in back-to-back months. Only the winter of 2011 had a combo with more as December picked up 20.1" and January saw 36.0".
Three of the winters found on the chart below had 20" or more of snow for both of the months: Jan/Feb 1978, Jan/Feb 1996 and Dec 2010/Jan 2011. And three winters make two appearances: 1996, 2010 and 2011. (If March 2014 sees nine inches or more it will also have two slots on the list.)
|NEW YORK'S SNOWIEST BACK-TO-BACK MONTHS|
|Months||1st Month||2nd Month||Combined|
|Dec 2010/Jan 2011||20.1"||36.0"||56.1"|
|Dec 1947/Jan 1948||29.6"||15.3"||44.9"|
|Dec 1904/Jan 1905||21.6"||18.4"||40.0"|
|Dec 2003/Jan 2004||19.8"||17.3"||37.1"|
|(Analysis of data from www.NWS.NOAA.gov)|
Tags: January and February 2014 had 48.5" of snow in New York, January-February 2014 is New York's second snowiest back-to-back months, New York's snowiest back-to-back months, New York's snowiest consecutive months
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Since the winter of 1960 there have been nineteen streaks of seven days or longer in which the high temperature was 32° or colder; six lasted ten or more days. The most recent occurred during the winter of 2014, a streak of seven days between Feb. 6-12, 2014. Not only was it the longest such streak since January 2005, it was the longest during the month of February since 1979. (In February 2015 there was a nine-day period in which every day but one had a high of 32° or colder; the one day above 32° had a high of 33°):
|LONGEST STREAKS WITH HIGH TEMPERATURES AT 32 DEGREES OR COLDER
|Source: Nat'l. Climatic Center|
An average winter in New York has 18 days with high temperatures of 32° or colder (20% of its days). Since 1970 the number has ranged from as few as three, in the winter of 2002, to as many as 45, in 1977 (half of that winter's days). Being that it's winter suggests that cold conditions would predominate, when, in fact, there aren't nearly as many of these cold days as there are days entirely above freezing (18 vs. 34). However, there have been nine very cold winters in which days of freezing weather or colder outnumbered the mild days.
|WINTERS WITH MORE COLD THAN MILD DAYS|
(The winter of 2015 isn't on the chart above because, despite its frigid February, December was on the mild side, and the winter ended up with 25 cold days and 27 mild ones.)
By month, only one January since 1970 had no freezing or colder days, and that was in 1990 (after one of the coldest Decembers on record). The most such days, 25, occurred in 1977. Meanwhile, three Februarys had no days of 32° or colder; in December it's happened eight times.
|WINTER DAYS W/HIGHS OF 32 OR COLDER|
|*Most recent occurrence|
Finally, although they occur infrequently, November and March (which fall outside of "meteorological" winter) occasionally experience days with highs of 32° or colder. While March sees one of these days once ever one or two years, in November it happens just once every seven years. And no November has had more than one of these cold days (with the winter of 2013-14 being the most recent), while in March the most was six, in 1978, and five in 1984 and 2017. The winters of 1990 and 2009 have the distinction of being the only ones book-ended by days at freezing or colder in both November and March.
During a typical winter (Dec. 1-Feb. 28/29), one-third of the days have temperatures that stay above freezing for the entire day. (Some might be surprised to learn that there are nearly twice as many frost-free days than those days at freezing or colder - 34 vs. 18). There have been as few as 15 of these "January thaw" days (winter of 1970) and as many as 58 (winters of 1998 and 2012).
Since 1970 there have been 26 streaks of frost-free days that lasted 10 days or longer; half of the winters have had at least one; seven had two (the most recent was the winter of 2016-17). The longest lasted 34 days during the winter of 2015-16, lasting from Dec. 1 thru Jan. 3; there was also one of 31 days in the winter of 2006-07, between Dec. 10 and Jan. 9. December 2015 also had an eighteen-day steak in which the temperature never fell below 45° and an eight-day streak in which the temperature never fell below 50°.
New York City has experienced temperatures in the 70s in December ten times - all but one of them occurring since 1982 (the other was in 1946). The tenth occurrence was on Dec. 24, 2015, when the high reached 72°. This was the warmest reading in December since 1998 when highs of 75° and 74° were recorded. And only 1984's 70-degree reading came later in December - on 12/29. Some other facts about unseasonably warm temperatures in December: